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Arrest of man in Peter Wrighton murder investigation welcomed by villagers of East Harling

PUBLISHED: 13:54 12 August 2017 | UPDATED: 16:37 12 August 2017

Peter Wrighton with one of his dogs. PIC: Norfolk Constabulary.

Peter Wrighton with one of his dogs. PIC: Norfolk Constabulary.

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The arrest of a man in his 20s in connection with the murder of 83-year-old Peter Wrighton has been welcomed by people living near the scene of the crime.

CCTV image of Peter Wrighton at Kenninghall Post Office CCTV image of Peter Wrighton at Kenninghall Post Office

For the past week, the quiet village of East Harling has been in a state of shock at the killing and fearful because the person responsible was on the loose.

The body of Mr Wrighton, a former BT worker, was discovered in woodland near to the Fiveways junction last Saturday, He had been stabbed multiple times in the neck and head.

Norfolk police today arrested a man, aged in his 20s from the local area, on suspicion of the murder of father-of-two Mr Wrighton, from Banham.

News of that arrest was welcomed in East Harling.

Aerial view of murder scene, near East Harling. PIC: Supplied by Norfolk police. Aerial view of murder scene, near East Harling. PIC: Supplied by Norfolk police.

Jill Hayman, 59, who has lived in the village for more than 20 years said: “Its a lovely little village and there’s not that much that happens here.

“It’s a lovely place to live so it was a bit of a shock. It’s been upsetting for everyone.”

Penny Copland, 39, who works at the East Harling Village Stores, said: “Its only an arrest, not a charge, but at least they’ve got some leads, which is good.

“There’s a lot of people who have been very scared. There are old people. They are just hoping something can be done.”

Peter Wrighton, 83, of Banham, whose body was found in East Harling.  Picture Norfolk Constabulary Peter Wrighton, 83, of Banham, whose body was found in East Harling. Picture Norfolk Constabulary

A 37-year-old father of four from the village, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “If it is the culprit, then fantastic and hopefully justice will be done.”

He said the murder had affected his children, with them not wanting to be on their own.

But he said the arrest might improve how people in the village felt. He said: “I think it will make people feel a bit easier.”

Debbie Barnes, who works at FL Edge Butchers in East Harling, said everyone had been “looking over their shoulders” since the murder.

And although she welcomed the arrest, she admitted the worry had not gone.

She said: “Until there’s a charge I won’t rest. You can’t feel comfortable about it. It’s very, very worrying.

“Poor man, to get to 83 and still able to walk your dogs in the woods and then that. It’s very sad.”

A 37-year-old woman, who did not want to be named said it had been “terrifying” and said people would not feel better until someone was convicted.

A 67-year-old woman from the village, who did not want to be named, said she felt people would feel “easier” that there had been an arrest, while Brian Inglis, 71, who lives in the village, said he would still be wary despite the arrest.

A worker at East Harling Post Office, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she news of the arrest did not take away the grief she felt at the death of Mr Wrighton.

She said: “To be quite honest I haven’t felt that scared. I just feel I want to cry all the time just because of what happened to that poor man.”

She said she recognised his picture and realised she had talked to Mr Wrighton the day before he died, while they were walking their dogs in the woods.

She said: “He told me how long he had had the dogs and that they were rescue dogs.”

More than 100 Norfolk police officers and staff have been working on the case following the discovery of Mr Wrighton’s body at 10.45am last Saturday - a killing which has shocked the local community.

Dedicated phone lines were set up and more than 220 people have contacted the police following their appeal for information over the killing of the pensioner, who was described by his family as “a lovely, gentle husband, dad and grandfather.”

Police had made a direct appeal to the public for help finding two men seen in different areas close to the murder scene.

The men were described as:

• White, with a tanned complexion, aged 25 to 30 years and between 5ft 9ins and 5ft 11ins tall.

He was of an athletic build with short dark wavy hair and dark eyes. It is believed he was wearing a grey or blue t-shirt and grey floppy gym style shorts above the knee and heavy duty flip flops.

• White, aged 30 to 50 years old, of a medium build and wearing dark coloured clothing. He was seen walking without a dog in the northern area of the heath.

Police had also issued CCTV footage of the last sighting of Mr Wrighton at the Kenninghall Post Office - between 10.08am and 10.12am last Saturday - only about half an hour before a member of the public discovered his body.

Enquiries are continuing and detectives ask that anyone with information should contact Norfolk police immediately on 0800 056 0944 or 0207 158 0010, quoting Operation Graduate, visit the mobile police station or alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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